AN MHK is calling for a wholesale review of Tynwald members pay.
Alfred Cannan, who chairs the Civil Service Commission, has hit out at the ‘gesture politics’ of those MHKs and MLCs who have refused to take a pay rise, arguing that such lack of ‘discipline’ risks ‘breaking down the integrity of the system’.
Mr Cannan declined to take the 1.2 per cent pay rise last year but said his stance had ‘on reflection not achieved anything.’
He said he had not turned down the recently announced 20p per hour increase.
Tynwald members’ pay is linked to that of the island’s 2,300-plus civil servants whose pay award, backdated to April, amounts to an average of 1.08 per cent, as revealed in last week’s Manx Independent.
It works out at an extra £386 a year for a 37 hours week and will take the basic salary of an MHK and MLC to £37,822.
But the Michael MHK plans to table a motion to next month’s Tynwald sitting calling for an independent body to be appointed to review the whole system.
He told the Manx Independent: ‘We’ve got a situation where some members have decided they want to set their own pay scale. taking a 5 per cent pay cut or refusing to accept a pay rise.
‘In my view we’ve got to avoid a situation where we get into gesture politics. We need to have some discipline or the whole integrity of the system breaks down.’
Among those who had turned down pay rises have been the Chief Minister Allan Bell, Treasury Minister Eddie Teare and Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne.
Three MHKs - Mr Teare, Kate Beecroft (Lib Van, Douglas South) and Laurence Skelly (Rushen) – and two MLCs (Dudley Butt and Clare Christian) say they are contributing a higher voluntary contribution to their salary of 5 per cent.
Mr Cannan said it wasn’t just pay rates that need to be addressed but members’ expenses, pensions and fuel allowances as well. ‘The whole issue needs looking at,’ he said.
He added: ‘An independent body needs to look at and review the situation to see if there is a more modern and effective way of doing it.’
Among the issues it could look at is whether expenses should be included in MHKs’ salaries, he said.
But what would happen if the independent body concluded Tynwald members are not paid enough compared with other jurisdictions - a conclusion that would not go down well with the electorate?
‘Tynwald would have to debate that,’ he replied.
He insisted the public wanted to see policy, leadership and direction from their politicians - and they wanted a firm idea of how members are paid.
Turning to the issue of pay for government workers as a whole, Mr Cannan said he was going to ask Treasury and the Office of Human Resources to find a ‘simpler much clearer strategy going forward’.
‘The system for negotiating pay for the previous year is wrong. The UK Chancellor George Osborne is setting pay for two to three years in advance.
‘It’s turned into a quite a farce with pay awards.’
He said lot of areas needed addressing including the fact that binding arbitration is available in civil service pay negotiations. This can force the employer’s hand as arbitration can end up being more costly than an agreed settlement.
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